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December 4, 2016

Urban Meyer

Columbus, Ohio

COACH MEYER: Last night we were just going to have dinner and she was going to come over. We got a phone call. Shelley and Nicki had their whatever talk they have about that, which I'm not a part of. She said, Looks like things are going.

I said, Like moving?

She said, Yup.

And she went to the hospital. They kept her over.

I said, Does that mean?

She said, Yes.

We got a little bit of sleep. Shelley went at 4:00. The baby was born at 5:30. I grabbed my son at about 5:45. We got down there about 6:15. Got to meet the baby. Make sure my daughter is fine, which she is. And dad is fine.

We watched the selection show from the maternity ward.

Q. Can you describe your feelings on this day and also the matchup with Clemson?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I'm just one of those guys, I understand these are all gifts and you're just very grateful that God blessed my daughter with a healthy baby and a great husband. So that's the first thoughts.

Second of all, there's so many teams. I never really watched it this close because I guess we've had time. The amount of teams that were worthy of this -- I just said, I'm going to send a text out to my players and staff right now that we receive this opportunity with incredible humility and class because I can name six, seven teams right now that are that quality of teams.

We're going to do the best we can to represent.

Q. It was such an odd year where not making the Big Ten championship game, you could argue it helped you guys. You didn't have to play in another game. Your players didn't have to risk injury. You were able to go all in on recruiting. Can you just discuss your thoughts on how maybe not playing in the championship game helped.
COACH MEYER: I remember the other end of it when you lose that week. I first experienced that in the SEC. There's only one more week of recruiting. That's obviously a huge deal. Those are all things that I think continue to need to be discussed, the calendar, those type of things.

It was a bizarre year. It's a year that I don't really question anything. We just got to do our jobs every day. We won the rivalry game in that fashion. We had a recruiting dinner that night. The next morning we're all on planes, I mean before dawn, and you're going. No wonder half our coaching staff got sick and everything else, because it was a lot of work that week.

Q. What was the confidence level around here? Did you feel like you were definitely in?
COACH MEYER: I wasn't around here.

Q. Even through text messages.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I was with our team Friday. We had a practice Friday.

I think it started back in '06 when you just don't know until you know. I remember I found out with Gene Smith and my family in 2014 when America found out, when they flashed our sign on ESPN. I found out today when they flashed our sign on ESPN.

A lot of anxiety, a lot of hope. I think we certainly are one of the best teams in the country, but I think there's some great teams out there.

Q. You've prepared for a lot of bowl games, been through the playoff once before. Where do you go from here? What does the month look like for Ohio State, training camp or whatever you want to do?
COACH MEYER: I started it already. But as we speak, Brian Voltolini, my ops guy, we're going to meet right after this with the practice schedules, exactly the way we did in '14. That was the uncharted waters. All focus, obviously, is on this one. When I first heard about the playoff, I thought we'd split up our staff have guys work on the other games in case. When you get into it, you don't have time. So it's going to be all hands on deck.

We have a big recruiting weekend this weekend, and finals week. Those are all the things we'll are discussing right now.

Q. Any part of this, for those of us that don't watch practice, is it like in August? Do you do some fundamentals and then shift to game prep?
COACH MEYER: In a way, it is. It will be full fundamentals this next week. We have two or three practices this week, full fundamentals. Then the next week will be preliminary game plan, and then as we get around Christmastime, game plan goes in, then you're in game week.

The last thing you want to do is give guys things to work on that we're not going to do. So it's going to be hard, hard fundamentals, which we have a lot of work to do in certain areas. Then preliminary game plan, then game plan.

Q. When you look at the Clemson program, do you see maybe a little bit of yourself? Seems like ever since 2013 when you played at the Orange Bowl, you, them and Alabama were in it every year.
COACH MEYER: I know their team very well because I know their coach. I know most of their coaches, too. Excellent staff, excellent head coach, and they're loaded. I know exactly the players because I bet on both of our rosters, Clemson and Ohio State were in that conversation, and Alabama.

We know them, have a lot of respect for them. We lost that game. It was a great game, if I remember. Brain cells are gone, too. We know exactly what we're getting into. I watched it last night.

Q. Specifically with Deshaun Watson, it seemed like you guys were in that recruitment for a while. What do you recall about that?
COACH MEYER: It was over. We tried to get involved. He committed early, early, early. I want to say sophomore year, out of Gainesville, Georgia. Not a good player, great player. Not a good person, but a great person. I know his coach, high school program. We tried to get involved. They did a good job locking him down, I want to say, his sophomore year in high school.

Q. If you had gone before that committee this morning, before they made their final call, what would you say is the reason why your team should be and is included in this College Football Playoff?
COACH MEYER: First of all, I wouldn't do that.

Second of all, I don't know if I want to go there. I have too much respect. I never had a chance to watch games like that. I watched the games. I'm always about, especially the older I get, the players. I mean, you talk about some great football last night, guys going as hard as they possibly can.

All due respect, I'm not going to go and make an appeal. I don't have to. I will make an appeal for how hard kids are playing right now. This is the golden years of college football, man. What I watched last night, it doesn't get any better. What I've seen this season as far as our conference that we're in, we've gone from -- in 2012, I remember, I was actually shocked at the disrespect. I never looked at it that way. But how lousy everybody said our conference was. I don't think we were lousy, but we weren't great.

Now to say, I hear every person, it's the best conference in college football. You tell me that's not just a great reward for administrations and coaching staffs and players that have made that drastic change.

Q. Specifically, your team, you guys were the youngest team in major college football going into this season. How far has this team come in four months?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I think it was a year early. I think as we went through two-a-days, I knew we had to stay healthy. We're fortunate we stayed fairly healthy. We had to develop and we did. Whoever thought Malike Hooker and those guys would develop, Marshaun would stay healthy. He's never been healthy for a season. You develop Chris Worley and a guy named Jerome Baker, and the D-line would end up being a strength. Mike Weber, a thousand-yard rusher as a freshmen. I could go on and on.

You don't really think that far ahead because you don't really have time, but now I could reflect upon the season. Very proud of their progress. That game in Norman, Oklahoma, turned out to be kind of the difference in this whole situation.

Q. For you as a head coach, how much do you value conference championships and how much do you think they are important in evaluating any team out there?
COACH MEYER: That's a great question.

I value them as much -- that's why you go to work every day. You see the Big Ten championships right there. I think when they put together this College Football Playoff, I think you -- do you play a light schedule and put everything into your conference championship? That's not what I'm feeling across the country. They want to make every game important, which they have.

So to answer your question, we value it. What's my opinion of the value for?

Q. Just how anyone should evaluate it.
COACH MEYER: I think it's extremely important.

Q. Then I know the playoff is tough, four great teams, physical grind. It's hard to prepare for. But having been through it, is it fun? You get the four best teams together? It hasn't always been this way. You were in the old system.

Q. Is it great for college football?
COACH MEYER: It is great. It is great. It's great for the players. I mean, it's hard now. What our guys are getting ready to go through is really hard. Those four teams, all the teams, are getting ready to go play big-time bowl games.

I think one thing that's interesting, Billy Donovan, my old neighbor down at Florida, I used to give him a hard time. He said, Do you realize how hard March Madness is?

I looked at him and said, Do you realize 365 days a year you have March Madness? You can't lose.

I don't use that word 'fun' very often. It's very rewarding. It's why you come to Ohio State. The greatest fun of all is when you jog off the feel victorious. We're going to do everything we can to have that feeling again.

Q. When you look at the last few games y'all played in indoor stadiums, like this one will be, the Big Ten championship against Wisconsin, is there something about this team and offense that's more conducive to playing indoors?
COACH MEYER: Well, I've never really looked at it that way. I think when you start getting near the end of the season, there are some conversations about when you're dealing with the elements and you want to throw the ball. A big part of our game is horizontal, as well.

I haven't really thought much about it.

Q. Knowing what you know about this Clemson team, being as familiar with them as you are, maybe you don't know everything about them yet until you watch a lot of tape, but as of last night after watching the ACC championship game, what kind of jumps out to you as far as them as a team and what it's going to take to win the game?
COACH MEYER: The skill set on offense is over the top. They're all NFL players. They have one of the top, maybe the top or top two or three players in America in Deshaun Watson. They go fast. They're creative on offense.

I think they got one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. They're very multiple on defense, not just one defense.

But it all starts with personnel. I haven't seen it, but I'm going to find out the next few days. I would imagine them and Alabama would be the No. 1 team as far as NFL prospects in the country right now.

Q. You talked about working on fundamentals and things when you go through this month because you're going to have more than a month between when you play games. You've been through this before in the old system.
COACH MEYER: 27 days.

Q. I was just wondering, even in the old system, when this kind of gap was normal, could you see a transformation in your team? You want to be at the apex of where you are right now, but in a month of training, can you take the next step forward?
COACH MEYER: I think with a very young team you can. I think I get your question. But if it's a mature team, you try to get them to the dance as prepared as you can.

We're so young. There's so much improvement. Everybody in this room knows what it is, too. We have to get much better.

The challenge has already been laid across the table last week with the players and coaches, that for us to compete at this level, we have to be nine strong. At times we're not nine strong. That has to happen.

So we have 27 days, a couple days ago it was 29 days, to get to be nine strong.

Q. 2014 and going into it, you knew about the battle playing in the Big Ten championship, then winning two playoff games on the road. How big of a difference do you think it is for this team to not have to have gone through that battle? Does that change anything?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, because I've been in that situation a couple times at Florida and here now, too. I'd much rather play in that championship game and win it because your team gets another chance to prepare and get better at their skill sets.

That just means we have to catch up that much. You have to somehow simulate that game here in the next couple weeks to get them ready to play in that final game. I think that's a big deal.

I remember we played Ohio State in '06. I think a big part of our success was we had to play a rugged SEC Championship game, and Ohio State was off. We were still going. So I have to somehow create that in practice.

Q. Asking about the system as it is. You mentioned winning the Oklahoma game, that that obviously was important. The committee members have said that was a separator, a game all the way back in September. Did you think coming off the field, Man. I know you had a whole lot of season to go. You schedule a difficult game like that. But Oklahoma had a really good year, but they didn't get close to getting it.
COACH MEYER: When I first saw the schedule, I wasn't all jacked up about taking our team, a young team, on the road to Oklahoma. I like competition and all that. If you have a veteran team that's been -- that was our first road trip. For half that team, they got on a plane, they'd never done that before. To go to a place where they never lose.

I never got involved in scheduling. I just let my boss do it. I want to have a conversation with Gene and listen. Not that I'm going to give my input, but I just think as we go forward, that's critical on who you're playing early in the season. Obviously it benefited us.

I think Oklahoma, you watch them play the other day, they're as fine a team as there is in college football. If they didn't lose that game, they'd be in the playoff. There's a lot of conversations. It's razor thin, the difference between being in and being out.

Q. When you were watching Penn State-Wisconsin, were you wishing, God, I wish I was there?
COACH MEYER: Of course. You do. The value of a conference championship, and I think Kirk Herbstreit said yesterday, I talked to him yesterday, it was everything to get to the Rose Bowl. I grew up with that. I don't want to say it's sad. I don't want to say it's disappointing. I remember when I was at Florida, we lost one game, went to the Sugar Bowl, everybody was upset. That used to be a big part of everything.

I hope we don't lose too much of that. That's still the Rose Bowl. Still a conference championship. College football is as strong as it's ever been.

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